SURREY â€” Unlike other festive holidays, the Halloween season doesnâ€™t often evoke the spirit of giving. While some might think that the only thing All Hallows’ Eve does is try to evoke spirits, others are busy decorating their homes with ghouls, goblins and cobwebs for Halloween displays that will benefit local charities.
Surrey residents are no strangers to the haunted house circuit. With themes like â€œCarnevilâ€, â€œCreepy Castleâ€ and â€œHillbilly Hellâ€, itâ€™s clear to see that more than a couple Surrey residents are a little gung-ho for the holiday that celebrates all that is no good.
Janet Childâ€™s Creepy Castle, for example, has been going four years strong, and proceeds from the haunted house â€” which includes a mini-pumpkin patch, a graveyard and a walk through some haunted castle chambers â€” go towards the Surrey Firefighters and the Surrey Hospice.
â€œThis year weâ€™re really pumping it up,â€ Child told the Now. â€œWe thought we were going to try to do a little bit of different stuff this year simply because it is on a Friday and we can stay open without worrying about it.â€
The â€œcastleâ€ wraps around the front and side of the house, featuring homemade horror masks and dead bodies with organs falling out. With so many great features of the public haunted house, Child maintains sheâ€™s been very lucky with the amount of community support received.
â€œItâ€™s been a really great experience for me to see how giving local merchants are,â€ she said.
Janet Childâ€™s Creepy Castle has been going four years strong. (Photo: GORD GOBLE)
Donated items include treats from local bakeries to give to kids, gallons of paint, building supplies and more.
The Childsâ€™ Creepy Castle is located at 8753 Tulsey Cres. in Surrey. Entry to the haunted house is by donation.
For the past seven years, Stacey Yarwood, a Clayton Heights resident has been putting on a Halloween house to raise cash for charity. For the past five, sheâ€™s been donating specifically to BC Childrenâ€™s Hospital after her nephew was diagnosed with cancer.
This year, her Clayton Heights home will be decked out as an evil carnival â€” a â€œCarnevil.â€
â€œWe hand out coffee, hot chocolate and obviously candy,â€ Yarwood said, noting that the haunted house is free to enter but donations are appreciated.
Halloween lovers and trick-or-treaters alike may purchase popcorn inside. Yarwood said the house is a real community effort, and sees long line-ups come Halloween.
â€œOur neighbours get involved with a live DJ and the DJ plays music all night for everyone standing in line,â€ she said. â€œLast year we had about a thousand kids; they usually throw out stuffed animals and itâ€™s a lot of fun.â€
For those a little gun-shy going into the haunted house, Yarwood has got it covered.
â€œWe have guides that stand at the front and theyâ€™ll go through if youâ€™ve got a little one thatâ€™s too scared. It can be for all-ages,â€ she said.
Yarwoodâ€™s Carnevil is located at 6970 190th Street in Clayton Heights. Admission is free but donations appreciated. There will be a basket of candy to raffle off, as well as other fun features.
Greg McLellan’s Swamp House is named Hillbilly Hell. (Photo: GORD GOBLE)
Getting more creative every year is Greg McLellanâ€™s Swamp House. This yearâ€™s theme? Hillbilly Hell.
Located in Delta, McLellan constructs a haunted house that takes up his entire driveway. And though the creative driveway den is only open a few days per year, the landscape designer starts planning his October haunt as early as January.
â€œWhen I was a kid, when youâ€™re in the neighbourhood trick-or-treating and, you know, there was always that one house that would scare the bejeesus out of you?â€ McLellan asked, noting that he wanted to bring back fun to neighbourhood activities for kids.
â€œThereâ€™s really no place to go,â€ he said. â€œTrick-or-treating kind of died off there for a while with all the fear, people started going to malls. I just thought Iâ€™d get back into it and have a destination place for kids and people to go to. Iâ€™ve got nothing but positive feedback from everyone whoâ€™s ever come by.â€
From the street, up the McLellansâ€™ driveway, and reaching up to their garage, Hillbilly Hell is a seven-room maze that fits under a watertight tent. Four to five people can fit inside the haunted house at a time. The Delta resident said he often gets asked if heâ€™s in the movie business or whether he designs sets because his Halloween dÃ©cor is so creative.
A zombie scare at Greg McLellan’s Swamp House. (Photo: GORD GOBLE)
Asked why heâ€™s so enthusiastic about Halloween, McLellan said itâ€™s quite simple.
â€œHalloween just piqued my interest, and who doesnâ€™t like scaring people?â€
As scary as he likes to be, he said that heâ€™s not going for gore at Hillbilly Hell.
â€œItâ€™s a little bit backwoods, a little bit of deformity, a little bit of banjo playing,â€ McLellan said. â€œIâ€™m not into the gore, you know, the big blood themes. Thatâ€™s just not where Iâ€™m at yet and Iâ€™m not sure if Iâ€™ll ever want to be. I kind of play on peopleâ€™s minds and what they think is going to be coming, and there might be and might not be.â€
McLellan also noted that his Swamp House is free to enter, but there is a donation box that trick-or-treaters can give to if they want. Every penny collected through the donation box will benefit the Childrenâ€™s Miracle Network.
McLellanâ€™s Swamp House/Hillbilly Hell is located at 8661 Byron Road, Delta. The haunted house is open on Wednesday, Oct. 29, Thursday, Oct. 30 and Friday, Oct. 31 after sundown.
Gord Sauck’s haunted house is in Sunshine Hills. (Photo: GORD GOBLE)
Also located in North Delta is Gord Sauckâ€™s Gordon Manor, in Sunshine Hills. The haunt, featuring gothic wrought-iron fences, ghouls and hanging skeletons as well as a whole castle-brick faÃ§ade, looks like it better fits a neighbourhood in Transylvania than the picturesque Sunshine Hills. The home is open to the public on Halloween evening from 6 to 10 p.m. and, according to Sauck, he only has one rule: no gore.
â€œThe first rule is thereâ€™s no gore, itâ€™s a family-themed kind of thing. No blood body parts, gore or anything like that,â€ he said.
What it does boast is a lot of high-tech effects, like lasers and animatronics. Unlike many of the other haunted houses, the Saucksâ€™ is not a â€œwalk-through.â€ The big display, which its â€œhaunterâ€ says is expected to be patronized by over 2,000 people this year, warrants a street shut-down by the city.
The CH.I.L.D. foundation will be on hand to collect donations; names will be drawn for a WestJet trip. Gordon Manor is located at 11147 Huff Blvd. in North Delta and runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Halloween evening.